When it comes down to comparing the great players in the NBA today, Kobe Bryant is someone that i've always kept as the gold standard because of his ability to compete, desire to win, and proven track record.
Boston Celtics great Larry Bird saw the Los Angeles Lakers as the enemy during his playing days, but sees Bryant as the one current player he'd like on his side if he were playing today.
Bill Simmons talks to Celtics legend and current Pacers GM Larry Bird about the NBA then and now.
Appearing on "The B.S. Report" with Grantland.com's Bill Simmons, Bird said that LeBron James is one of the greatest players and we should all sit back and enjoy what he can do on the basketball court. He even calls him the best player in the league, but he's not the player he would go into battle with.
If he could choose any current player that he'd like to play a season with, who would it be, Bird was asked.
"Well, probably Kobe, because of the fact that ... well, of course he wouldn't have been shooting as much as he does now ... but his desire to win, his dedication, to always get better, uh, and he's just, he's just tough," Bird said. "He's just a tough cat.
"But, if you want to have fun, like I did with Bill Walton, play with LeBron. It would have probably been more fun to play with LeBron, but if you want to win and win and win, it's Kobe. Not that LeBron's not a winner, just that [Kobe's] mindset is to go into every practice, every game, to get better."
Bryant has won five championships with the Lakers, one short of the legend he's most often compared to, Michael Jordan. James joined the Miami Heat last season and fell short in the NBA Finals, leaving him searching for his first title.